INTEL: International Science and Engineering Fair

June 11, 2014

This spring sophomore Demetri Maxim, through winning in the Maine State Science Fair,  earned a spot at INTEL.  Here are reflections from Mr. Ayotte, who helped Demetri with his project and accompanied him to the fair.  If you want to hear more about Demetri’s experience, here is a quick interview post-conference. 

pre-exhibit prep work

Reflections from Mr. Ayotte:

Acknowledgment at Intel ISEF is the goal of many aspiring young scientist and innovators. For most of these students it’s not the last step, but the first into a international community. My experiences here was enlightening : to get here you don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be focused and thorough. My area of expertise is computer science, robotics, and engineering so I could really only understand the projects in my area of expertise due to the level of thoroughness. Because of this each separate category has their own panel of judges who are experts in their respective fields. There are many fields, from Medical and Health Sciences, to Astronomy to pure Math.

My biggest take away from ISEF was that all you need is an interest and the thoroughness to document your work and method. You can work as a team or alone, and you can work in any field you have interest in. This is a platform for which you can explore and develop a passion for science. Though the benefits don’t stop there, students gain all sorts of awards and scholarships. Just attending Intel ISEF is a great way to build a brand and in this age of infinite digital memory, it’s a great way to be remembered.

The science fair culture has been slowly reduced and in the mind of many, we still think of baking soda volcanoes. However I an proud to say that what I saw in Los Angeles certainly changed my mind. I hope to help shape a culture that allows students to develop their own projects and research. After seeing ISEF I believe that the pursuit of independent projects and science fairs is a very valid way to distinguish oneself from the other 20,000 applicants. This mirrors what I heard at the NYC Maker Faire this past fall from MIT’s Dr. Dawn Wendell, Admissions. Student portfolios are quickly becoming something STEM colleges are looking for, competing in science fairs is a great way to build them.

So the last question is will we be back? Given only 3 teams from Maine end up going and they have to place in the Maine science fair, I can’t say. However I can say I will use any and every resource available to help students try.

 

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